Friday, July 13, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Yankees 6, Angels 5
By Mark Saxon
The Angels' bullpen, so dominant since early May, unraveled to open the second half as the Angels lost 6-5 at Yankee Stadium, with New York rallying from a 5-2 deficit in the eighth inning.
Yankee killer. When you do things in New York, you can no longer do them with relative anonymity, as Mark Trumbo has this season. The Angels' most powerful hitter mashed a Hiroki Kuroda fastball in the seventh inning for a three-run blast. It was his 23rd home run and carried to the left-field bullpen, a distance of about 435 feet. Trumbo has homered in five straight games against the Yankees, so now everybody will know his name when he walks down Fifth Avenue. If they don't, they'll just make up a few of their own. MVP candidate for sure now.
Escape artistry. C.J. Wilson had a man at third, nobody out and Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano coming up in the sixth inning, the Angels already trailing by a run. None of those hitters could get the ball out of the infield. Later, he stranded a runner at third with one out. Wilson didn't pitch in the All-Star Game because of some blister issues on his left middle finger. Who cares? If anything, that's good news for the Angels, since they could open the second half with Wilson and give Jered Weaver a few extra days of rest.
Still going. It's fun to watch Mike Trout even when he's doing relatively mundane things, at least by his standards. He dribbled a single up the middle and stole second (on a play that wasn't close) and roped a double into left (and stole third). It wasn't Trout's most spectacular night, but it continued his positive momentum heading into the final 2½ months. That's important to this team that has absolutely fed on his energy since early May.
Downer. How good had Scott Downs been? Not only hadn't he allowed a run, but he hadn't even allowed more than one base runner in an outing since June 22. That came to an end at a dramatically bad time. Downs hung a breaking ball to Mark Teixeira and the slugger hammered it into the left-field stands. Downs had given up one earned run all year. Now he has given up five.
Baffling base running. Does any team run into outs more giddily than the Angels? Much like earlier in the season, a fairly mediocre pitcher was able to sail into the latter innings, in part due to some unnecessarily aggressive base running. It's one thing to let Erick Aybar or Mike Trout run, but why put Trumbo and Alberto Callaspo in motion? Each of those guys were involved in swing-throw double plays. Howie Kendrick ended the game trying to reach second on a pitch that bounced in the dirt and dribbled about 15 feet from home plate.
What to do? Vernon Wells took batting practice on the field before Friday's game and Mike Scioscia said he would begin a rehab assignment once he can hit pain-free for a week. OK, so let's say Wells is about two weeks or so away from returning. That means Decision Day, which the Angels have been dreading, is rapidly approaching. Wells clearly no longer has an everyday spot, and is he really even deserving of at-bats at the expense of Kendrys Morales or Torii Hunter? What do you do with a player who's going to cash $42 million worth of checks from you in the next two years and no longer has an appreciable role? Stay tuned.